NICOLA Sturgeon has set out the case for independence following the global spotlight on Scotland during the COP summit, saying the country is “more than capable” of making its way in the world.

The First Minister said while leaving the UK would not be a “magic wand”, the question is whether it can afford not to following issues such as the damage caused by Brexit. She said no country should be prepared to “simply accept what Scotland has been subjected to” in recent years. Her comments are made in an exclusive piece which will be published in one million pro-independence newspapers soon being distributed across the country.

The eight-page publication, a venture between The National, the SNP and Believe in Scotland, will bring the Yes case to thousands of households in a special paper being delivered to local groups and branches later this week.

In her article, Sturgeon writes: “Scotland has just welcomed the world to Glasgow, and spending time in the city these last few weeks has been an invigorating experience.

“To see the place I am proud to call home, and our country as a whole, play host to COP26 has been uplifting. Countries large and small have been represented at the top table as world leaders addressed the challenge of climate change, the biggest single issue facing us collectively as a global community.

“And while Scotland was not represented in its own right at that top table, I have no doubt that not only are we more than capable of making our own way in the world as an independent country but, just as importantly, we will bring a lot to the table when it comes to making our own unique contribution to the global good.”

She said that Scotland is already leading the world in efforts to decarbonise and reach net zero, acknowledging there is still “much more to do”.

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She added: “But the reaction to our efforts from the world leaders I spoke to in Glasgow was hugely encouraging. It’s all too easy to forget, amid the day-to-day politicking that goes on at Holyrood and Westminster, that Scotland has a great story to tell, on the climate agenda and much else besides – and that people across the world are interested in what we have to say.”

The First Minister also said that the case for independence is “stronger than it has ever been” – with Boris Johnson’s government leading a “power grab” on Holyrood.

“The real-world damage being caused by Brexit to our economy and communities is huge and still growing,” she wrote.

“Figures show that in the first two quarters of this year, Scotland’s food exports to the EU, including fish and seafood, were 14% lower than the equivalent period in 2019.

“This compares with a 3% drop for non-EU exports of food over the same period – that decline reflects not just the impact of the pandemic, but also the irresponsible, hard-line approach the Tories have taken to Brexit.

“Meanwhile, the UK Office for Budget Responsibility now also forecasts the impact of Brexit on the UK economy will be even worse in the long run than Covid-19.”

Sturgeon said that Scotland can and must “aspire to do better than this”.

“The fact is that the UK sits at or near the bottom of a whole range of league tables of developed nations,” she added.

“Scotland can, and will, do so much better as an independent country.

“Independence will not be a magic wand, and there will be tough challenges to be faced.

“But the question is no longer whether Scotland could afford to be a successful independent country – the question now is whether we can afford not to be independent.”

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SHE went on: “There is a cast-iron democratic mandate for an independence referendum, secured by the people of Scotland in this year’s election. Boris Johnson’s Trump-like bid to defy democracy is unsustainable and doomed to failure.

“No country should be prepared to simply accept what Scotland has been subjected to in recent years.

“As First Minister, I am not prepared to accept it because I know that a better way is possible, and that a brighter future awaits Scotland.

 “But the only way to make sure we do not continue to face misgovernment by Westminster and having our interests ignored is to become an independent country.

“The time has come to take our future into our own hands with independence.”